Monday, April 28, 2014

Choosing Curriculum

I’m not terribly dogmatic on which curriculum is “best”.  The best curriculum is the one which functions best for your family and situation.  I have utilized every learning style during my 13 years of Homeschooling and every method of teaching.  In the early years I was very Charlotte Mason minded.  You saw a LOT of art prints, nature identification guides, and living books in my home (You still do.)   This is probably, hands down, my favorite method of educating my children.  My older boys tell me that they felt they had a “first rate” education in their early years and learned to LOVE learning.  However, when I was deathly sick and nearly bedridden with my third pregnancy, I bought Rod and Staff for the following year and the boys adapted and did quite well with a more traditional approach.   In recent years, we are very eclectic.  I use many different publishers and sometimes create studied based on my children’s interests.  My older boys are both in high school.  We purchase curriculum based on their individual God-given paths.  The high school years are among the most expensive.

With that rather long-winded introduction, here are my thoughts on selecting curriculum. Although these suggestion were written with new homeschool families in mind, those who are veterans will, perhaps, also find them helpful

1.  "Look, look, look, and listen."  If you are "of a certain age" (as I am) you'll remember Mr. Rogers singing this song. Do a lot more looking and listening than buying. DON’T purchase right away!! Gather materials, ideas, and samples. You can often download samples from the internet or ask your friends to see samples of their children’s work with that specific curriculum. There are also product reviews on-line. 

            2.  Create a curriculum file.  Place clippings of interesting curriculum from on-line resources, homeschooling catalogs or magazines in a manila folder.  Consider subjects you think your children would enjoy both now and in the future.  Basically, if it intrigues you, put it in the folder.  You can utilize this folder when planning school for subsequent school years

3. Get with other homeschoolers and ask questions: Why do you like it? How much instructor preparation time is required? Have you used it for all of your students? If you have several students that span a number of ages, you may want material that you can use with several of them, rather than purchase individual curriculum for every student. How much does it cost? What additional costs are required for additional materials to use this curriculum?

4. Consider your time. In general, pricier curriculum will often need less teacher preparation time, and less pricy curriculum will require more of your time to prepare.

5. Consider your budget. If you really feel strongly about a certain curriculum, check used sites and you may find a bargain.
eBay, Amazon
6. Consider your “season”. Are you moving, having a new baby, or nursing a sick relative? These will all have an impact on the curriculum you choose.   DON’T consider a curriculum choice as a mandate that you must purchase that curriculum year after year. Life changes, needs change, and your curriculum might too.
7.  Consider the 5 different Methods of teaching, learning, and schooling.              I have written a separate post on these teaching methods entitled:  Five Teaching Methods.  

8.  Consider how your student learns best: There are a number of websites, which will allow you to answer questions to determine your child’s learning style. A very basic division is:  
- Tactile (hands on – they learn by doing) These students love Legos, erector sets, gears, and science experiments
- Visual (They love pictures, graphs, pie charts, and well-organized text). These students love worksheets
- Auditory (They learn through listening.) These children love audio tapes and read-alouds. 
Note:  Although the primary curriculum that I choose for my student may be geared toward a specific learning style, I insist that my children do some tasks cross-directionally. So, eventually they WILL  learn to use skills that belong to the other two learning styles. For instance, ALL of my children are required to learn public speaking and good writing techniques, whether these are their preferred forms of communication or not.

Do all to the Glory of God, 


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